An intimate portrait of a young woman escaping through romance
I Believe in Unicorns is a poetic and deeply intimate film. Its greatest achievement is how it conveys the loss of innocence as a teenage girl discovers womanhood/independence through a road-trip with her boyfriend. However, this newly discovered freedom seems to be just as disturbing as the home life she seeks to escape. Meyerhoff depicts through stop- motion and an effusive color-palette the POV/Internal life of our main character--Davina. There are unicorns, knights, princesses--it's a narrative of mythology to describe how her childlike internal world is trying to make sense of the looming chaos of her adult life.
This film does not depict the empowerment of love but is a cautionary tale for the relationships we chase when we are looking to escape our circumstances. And through this cyclone, we see Davina's mythological internal world crumble as her external one transforms.
This film is sophisticated and confident in its approach. It commits to one story/character- rather then a feature aiming to dizzy us with a multitude of sub-plots. The two stories can arguably be distilled to Davina's romance with Sterling and the adventures of her mythological internal world. As a result, you leave feeling you know this person like a best friend or a lover. (A testament to Natalia Dyer's acting).
This is a treat given cinema's ever-growing plague of saccharin and one-dimensional female characters. What you learn about Davina is not just magical--but it is terrifying. And the fact that Meyerhoff gives us such a close portrait of a teenage girl is nothing short of daring (things don't just boil down to getting the romantic interest and being happy--there is nightmare that looms from even chasing one)--from first sexual encounters (the squeaky awkwardness) to finding true love for an imaginary princess. This wide spectrum exists in Davina. I only look forward to meeting more of the characters Meyerhoff brings to life.
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